Fire Courses Available Online

Fire Courses Available Online

2 September 2008

prepared by Matthew Conway

USA — Fire Courses Available Online

The classroom portions of the two basic fire training courses needed for qualification as a wildland firefighter can now be taken online, thanks to a cooperative effort between the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy.

The Emergency Management and Response—Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) learned that the two courses, which firefighter trainees traditionally have taken together, are S-130 (Firefighter Training) and -190 (Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior).  The courses are designed to teach the basic strategies and tactics that crews use to fight fires burning in vegetation, how wildland fire behaves, and how weather influences the spread of wildland fire.

According to Dan Smith, Fire Director for the National Association of State Foresters, “making these widely-used courses available online can be important to helping meet the training needs of local fire department personnel—and accomplishing that in a way that works well for departments with scarce funds and availability of time.” The S-130 and S-190 training courses are configured in short modules of 1 to 3 hours, which enable students to complete the courses at their own pace.  Collectively, the two courses offer approximately 40 hours of training, and can be accessed through the National Fire Academy’s NFA Online

Extreme Weather Operations

The U.S. Fire Administration’s newly released “Special Report: Fire Department Preparedness for Extreme Weather Emergencies and Natural Disasters” is written specifically to maximize assistance to Emergency Services Sector (ESS) departments and organizations called to incidents during challenging weather conditions.

As the report attests, the ESS and the nation are tested rigorously year-round: “Earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards and ice storms, floods, power outages, and extreme heat conspire to create dangerous working conditions, impassable roads, access nightmares, and some difficult dispatch and triage choices,”  consequences that potentially degrade ESS survivability, continuity, and response-ability.  Referring to the many departments that have responded under harsh and dangerous weather conditions, the report states: “They have had to improvise strategies, revise deployment protocols, work extended shifts, and make do with whatever was available.”

To aid all ESS agencies, regardless of past experience, depth and breadth of experience, or weather emergencies or disasters not yet experienced, the report examines weather impact, types of service calls, planning and necessary equipment, safety, mutual aid, shift management, resource identification, logistics, extended operations, and coordination with Emergency Operations Centers.  Eight weather-specific case studies are presented.  The Emergency Management and Response—Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) recognizes a value of this report to plan for challenging weather events as well as responses to chemical, biological, and radiological incidents (accidental or intentional).

To view and download “Fire Department Preparedness for Extreme Weather Emergencies and Natural Disasters,” USFA-TR-162/April 2008 (39 pp., 367 KB), go to

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